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 Theobald of Bec

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Melisende
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PostSubject: Theobald of Bec   Mon Oct 27, 2008 5:08 pm

Theobald of Bec
(c.1090 - 1161)

Archbishop of Canterbury.

Theobald was born near Bec - Le Bec Hellouin, Normandy.

Theobald entered the Benedictine Abbey of Bec (p.1124), which had been founded (c.1039) by a Norman Knight named Herluin. The Normans, especially those followers of William the Conqueror, frequently patronised the Abbey.

Approximately three years later Theobald became Prior (1127); and ten year later he became Abbot (c.1137).

Theobald was the fifth Abbot from Bec to be elected Archbishop of Canterbury (24/12/1138) - the first two Abbots were Lanfranc and Anselm. His election was favoured by King Stephen of England. Theobald was consecrated (8/1/1139).

Theobald's position as Archbishop of Canterbury was coveted by Henry of Blois, brother of King Stephen, who became instead Papal Legate. Theobald was persuaded by Henry to support Maud after Stephen captured at Lincoln(1141). He was at Oxford (July) and fled from Winchester (September 1141). When Stephen was released from his imprisonment, Theobald returned to Stephen (November 1141).

Theobald was completely overshadowed by Henry of Blois. It was Henry of Blois who argued for the priveleges of the Church. However, with the reign of King Stephen beginning to wane, Theobald began to slowly assert his independence. And with the death of Pope Innocent II (r.1130 - 1143), Henry's authority as Papal Legate ceased (24/9/1143).

Theobald openly opposed King Stephen - he refused to consecrate Stephen's nephew William as Archbishop of York; he attended a Papal Council at Rheims (1148) in defiance of a royal ban; and he was forbidden by Pope Eugenius III to crown Stephen's son Eustace, Count of Boulogne (Spring 1152). Queen Matilda of Boulogne attempted to intervene to reconcile the two men but failed.

Theobald was forced to flee to Flanders. He was later recalled when King Stephen was threatened with excommunication by Pope Eugenieus (r.1145 - 1153). He returned to Canterbury (September 1152).

Theobald negotiated the Treaty of Westminster which succeeded in reconciling King Stephen with Henry Plantagenet (1153) and which ultimately brought Henry Plantagenet to the throne as King Henry II. Upon the death of King Stephen, Theobald performed the coronation of Henry II (1154).

During the reign of King Henry II, Theobald was both Archbishop of Canterbury and Papal Legate. He was also a trusted advisor and counsellor of King Henry II. However, Theobald suffered from ill-health, and came to rely heavily upon his Arch-Deacon, Thomas Beckett.

Theobald died (18/4/1161) and was succeeded as Archbishop of Canterbury by Thomas Becket. Theobald was buried in Canterbury Cathedral; but his body was removed and reburied before St.Mary's Altar in the Nave.

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